As the healthcare industry seeks to reduce costs and improve outcomes, hospital readmission rates are under fire.
Perhaps it’s with good reason: According to a 2012 HIMSS report, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission estimated that about 75 percent of 30-day Medicare hospital readmissions were potentially preventable—with a savings of as much as $12 billion.
Why do hospital readmissions happen?
The HIMSS report cited several statistics that illustrate the problems contributing to hospital readmissions:
- Patients who didn’t receive follow-up care from a primary care physician were 10 times more likely to be readmitted.
- For those who did receive follow-up care, test results and medical records were missing in 23% of those appointments.
- 60% of medication errors occur during transitions of care.
How technology can help
Electronic health records, patient portals and case management systems that allow physicians and nurses to monitor patients are all improving care following discharge from the hospital.
One of the biggest opportunities for improvement, however, lies with mobile technology. Healthcare organizations are already primed for mHeath. According to the 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents indicated that they had used mobile devices to engage their patients. Additionally, many providers are already making investments into app-enabled portals. But mobile technology is an area ready for growth; only 18 percent of respondents reported that their mobile tech environments were “highly mature.”
When it comes to preventing readmissions, a streamlined communication system between physicians can prevent pivotal patient information from falling through the cracks. With secure, encrypted HIPAA-compliant messaging platforms, physicians can update the status of a patient remotely via smartphone or tablet. A primary care doctor can pull up a patient’s hospital information from anywhere, at any time. If there is a discrepancy or issue with a patient’s treatment plan, it can be flagged before the patient is discharged. And, encryption ensures that physicians don’t have to think about HIPAA compliance or security concerns.
When doctors have the right information at their fingertips and are able to message other medical professionals about a patient quickly and efficiently, readmissions could be reduced dramatically.